Life circumstances change constantly, which is why asking for a child custody modification to your current custody agreement is typical. So, how do you modify child custody in Utah? You can request a modification if a material and substantial change in circumstance has happened since the most recent order was put in place and if you can show that this change would be in the child’s best interest. Today, we go over the process of modifying a child custody agreement and what you need to know before you request a change.
Is a Child Custody Modification in the Best Interest of the Child?
The court will only consider modifying child custody if it is in the best interest of the child if it finds that there was a material and substantial change in circumstances. You will need to show the court evidence that this type of change has happened. When determining what is in the best interest of the child, the court will consider the following factors:
- Which parent has been the primary caregiver
- Each parent’s relationship with the child
- Benefit of keeping siblings together (if the child has a sibling)
- Financial resources of each parent
- Each parent’s ability to care for each child
- Why one parent is seeking custody
- If one parent has intentionally exposed the child to harmful material
- History of substance abuse and/or alcohol
- Preferences of the child
- Past conduct
- Emotional stability of each parent
- Which parent is most likely to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with the non-custodial parent
What Is Considered a Material and Substantial Change in Circumstance?
For the court to find that a material and substantial change in circumstance has occurred, you will need to present sufficient evidence showing how these changes have affected the custodial parent’s parenting ability or the relationship between the custodial parent and non-custodial parent. Some examples of a material and substantial change in circumstance include but are not limited to the following:
- Relocation (including out of state relocation)
- Child is struggling in school and is at risk of being placed on a remedial educational track
- One parent refuses to comply with the custody agreement
- Child’s needs have changed (this happens as a child gets older and matures)
- Child expresses a preference (this happens when the child is old enough to make such a decision)
- History of abuse (if either parent has abused the child or their ex-spouse)
Steps for Filing a Petition for a Child Custody Modification
Here are the steps to modify an existing child custody order:
- Consult with an experienced modification lawyer.
- Ensure you have a valid reason to request a custody change. Explain how you would like the custody order to be modified.
- Pay the filing fee and file all required forms.
- Serve the other parent.
- File a Request for Hearing or Proceeding.
- Attend your court hearing.
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